This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII - We Are The Mighty
Intel

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII

With the help of U.S. special forces, the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been battling radical Islamic terrorists in the south Pacific island chain since 2002. The Philippines, a former Spanish colony, is a predominantly Christian nation. However, its southern islands are home to a large Muslim population. Since the late 60s, there has been some form of push, political or terrorist, to create an independent Muslim state in the southern Philippines. The most prominent terror organization in Philippines since the early 2000s is the Abu Sayyaf Group.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Abu Sayyaf Group is the ISIS branch of Asia (ASG)

Known officially by their ISIS counterparts as Islamic State — East Asia Province, ASG first had ties to Al-Qaeda. They operated extensively throughout southeast Asia, especially in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. ASG conducted bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, and drug trafficking to further their cause for an Islamic caliphate. Under the leadership of Isnilon Hapilon, who swore allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ASG began conducting kidnappings and killings in the name of ISIS in 2014.

Simultaneously, brothers Omar and Abdullah Maute, founded their own Islamic terrorist organization in their hometown of Marawi in the southern Philippines. The brothers were educated in Muslim nations overseas where they were radicalized. Bringing this ideology back to the Philippines, they recruited other Muslim Filipinos to their cause. Working alongside Hapilon, Maute group and ASG stockpiled weapons and ammo in Marawi for a planned offensive. It would be their opening attack to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Philippines.

By May 2017, Maute group and ASG had amassed a huge stockpile of arms in Marawi. However, their planned offensive was forced to be accelerated. Working with the Philippine National Police, AFP Intelligence learned that Hapilon, who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list with a reward of $5 million, was in Marawi. A surgical operation was launched on May 23, 2017 to capture the ASG leader. However, when Philippine special forces entered the city, they found much more than they bargained for.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
A Filipino soldier takes cover during a firefight in Marawi (AFP)

Prepping for the planned offensive, roughly 1,000 militants had amassed in Marawi, some of whom came from foreign countries. Heavily armed, they quickly took over the city, burning churches, homes, and executing known Christians on sight. As civilians fled, some Muslims harbored their Christian neighbors who could not get out and hid them from the extremists. ASG and Maute group blocked all roads in and out of the city and took hostages demanding that the AFP cease all military operations in and around Marawi. At the same time, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of martial law for the entire island of Mindanao.

The next day, additional military forces arrived and 120 hostages at the hospital were freed. Key buildings like city hall and a university were recaptured by AFP forces who established command posts in preparation for the coming operations. The Philippine Air Force began airstrikes on Marawi. Army units pushed into the city and battled against heavy resistance. Although AFP ground troops were able to re-secure much of Marawi by May 31, the sections of the city under militant control were a maze of tight alleys and closely packed buildings. It would require Fallujah-style house-to-house room-by-room clearing to secure the rest of the city.

Moreover, Hapilon and the Maute brothers were still at large. Even if the majority of the militants were killed or captured, the escape of the terrorist leaders would be a major victory for ISIS. Heavy street fighting raged through the contested areas of the city as AFP troops rooted out pockets of resistance in search of the high value targets. To complicate the already arduous task of urban combat, the militants dug tunnels throughout the city. Like the Vietcong in Vietnam or the Soviets in Stalingrad, this allowed them to escape quickly and covertly from an engagement and reappear in an unexpected location.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Filipino Marines conduct a fire mission with 81mm mortars (AFP)

Fighting continued through June with the AFP announcing that it had killed over 200 militants. Still, resistance in the city was stiff and Marawi seemed no closer to being secured. Additionally, an estimated 2,000 civilians remained trapped in the city. On the morning of June 25, a unilateral ceasefire began in recognition of the Islamic holiday of Eid. This allowed Muslims on both sides of the fighting to observe the end of the month-long period of Ramadan. It also gave many civilians the opportunity to escape. Despite the ceasefire, militant snipers continued to engage AFP positions. At the end of the ceasefire, combat operations resumed in full.

In addition to technical support from the United States in hunting the wanted terrorist leaders, the Philippines accepted the aid of the Australians. Two AP-3C Orion surveillance planes were sent to the Philippines to support the battle. By July, AFP reported nearly 400 militants had been killed and over 700 civilians had been rescued. Still, 93 AFP service members were KIA and at least 45 civilians were dead.

On July 20, AFP forces scored a major strategic victory. Mapandi bridge, which provides access to Marawi’s commercial center, was retaken. This allowed AFP armored vehicles to push further into the city. Intense close-quarter fighting continued in the city’s rubble. IEDs and militant snipers made progress slow and deadly. However, AFP forces scored a major victory when Abdullah Maute was killed in an airstrike on August 7. His death was a morale boost for the weary Filipino troops who had been engaged in heavy and constant combat for months.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
The fighting demolished much of the city (AFP)

On August 18, the AFP announced that the combat zone had been reduced to an area covering 800×600 meters. Still, this section of the city contained 400 buildings which would have to be cleared one-by-one in search of Hapilon and Omar Maute.

By September, the combat zone had been reduced to an area of 500 square meters. However, these gains came at a high cost. Hundreds of Filipino troops had been wounded and dozens killed. On September 24, the last key bridge in Marawi was captured by the AFP, effectively isolating the remaining militants. Although Islamic representatives lobbied for a peace agreement, the Philippine government rejected them, saying that it was too little, too late. They would accept nothing less than total victory over the terrorists. In October, a major development occurred that would help bring the fighting to an end.

A hostage who had been held by Hapilon and Maute managed to escape to AFP lines and informed them of the location of the terrorist leaders. Army Special Forces Command quickly planned a top-tier operation. Elements of the 1st Scout Ranger Regiment and the Light Reaction Regiment, modeled after the 75th Ranger Regiment and Delta Force respectively, were tasked with clearing the suspected location and killing or capturing Hapilon and Maute. Trained by their American counterparts, these were the best men for the job. Supported by armored fighting vehicles, the commandos executed the operation on October 16.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Soldiers of the Light Reaction Regiment in Marawi (AFP)

As the special forces troops assaulted the target building, Hapilon and Maute escaped out the back. However, they were engaged by the remainder of the commandos and the armored vehicles who had secured the rear of the building. Maute was almost immediately killed by the .50-cal gunner in one of the vehicles. However, the gunner was unable it identify the fleeing militant as Maute through his thermal sight. Meanwhile, Hapilon was engaged by Ranger sniper teams who struck him three times in the chest. Despite going down, Hapilon harmlessly returned fire until he succumbed to his wounds.

The commandos killed a further 8 militants in securing the target building. 17 hostages including women, children, and a 2-month-old baby, were rescued. There were no AFP or civilian casualties. Once the target area was secure, the commandos went through the bodies and identified Hapilon and Maute. The announcement of their deaths was met with celebration across Marawi. DNA samples were sent to the FBI in the United States who confirmed the identities of the terrorist leaders.

The next day, President Duterte flew down to Marawi and declared the city’s liberation from the Islamic state. Fighting continued until October 23, exactly five months from the start of the battle, when the last pockets of ASG and Maute fighters were eliminated. The victory was hard-won. 168 Philippine service members were killed and over 1,400 were wounded. Sadly, 87 civilians also lost their lives during the five months of fighting. Still, 978 militants were killed and 12 were captured. The Battle of Marawi dealt a major blow to ASG and all but eliminated Maute group.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Philippine Scout Rangers in Marawi (AFP)

Marawi itself suffered greatly. 95% of structures in the 4 square kilometer combat zone were damaged, if not completely destroyed. This left 200,000 civilians displaced. The battle was the most intense and destructive in the Philippines since WWII. Rehabilitation and recovery efforts continue to this day.

The Battle of Marawi was the ultimate failure for ISIS in southeast Asia and a display of strength and unity for the Filipino people. ASG and Maute group were unable to establish their caliphate. Moreover, the Filipino people, Muslims, Christians, soldiers, and civilians alike, stood side-by-side against the violence and terror brought upon them and prevailed.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Filipino soldiers clear a building in Marawi (AFP)
Intel

Here’s what happens when an RPG is fired at 16 inches of bulletproof glass

A video uploaded to YouTube earlier this week purportedly shows what happens when a Russian RPG-7 (rocket-propelled grenade) is fired at 45 sheets of bulletproof glass, measuring about 16 inches thick.


An RPG is a portable, shoulder-fired, anti-tank weapon system that fires rockets equipped with an explosive warhead.

Here’s a side shot of an RPG:

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: YouTube/CrashZone

Here’s the target: 45 layers of bulletproof glass:

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: YouTube/CrashZone

Here we go:

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: YouTube/CrashZone

Here’s the RPG on its way toward the bulletproof glass:

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: YouTube/CrashZone

Here’s a GIF of the action:

via GIPHY

And here it is in slow motion:

via GIPHY

Here’s the end result:

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: YouTube/CrashZone

Here’s the full video:

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense. Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Intel

Brad Pitt is starring as Gen. Stanley McChrystal in ‘War Machine’

Ready your Netflix queue because Brad Pitt is bringing “War Machine” — a new feature film directed by David Michod — to your favorite online streaming service.


Pitt will star as a badass military general inspired by real-life Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who formerly commanded American and international forces in Afghanistan.

The $30 million Netflix feature is based on journalist Michael Hastings’ best-selling book “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan.” Pitt will be playing a four-star general whose “lethal reputation and impeccable track record vaults him to command the American war in Afghanistan,” Netflix said in press release.

Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos told Deadline:

“War Machine is a rip-roaring, behind-the-facade tale of modern war decision-makers, from the corridors of power to the distant regions of America’s ambitions.”

So for Pitt, a little less “Fury” and a little more “Inglorious Bastards.” We can dig it.

Read the full story at Deadline

DON’T MISS: Top 10 Air Force movie characters of all time

Articles

This extreme winter survival course teaches troops how to stay alive in Arctic conditions

Few places on the face of the earth can be as unforgiving or as deadly as the frozen Arctic.


Because of the dangers of the Arctic environment, coupled with the growing strategic importance of this part of the world, the US Air Force runs the Arctic Survival School out of Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.

Each year, this five-day intensive training program, also known as Cool School, teaches over 700 servicemembers the survival skills necessary to fight back against nature and survive in the Arctic.

“Mother nature does not like you in this situation,” Survival Instructor Staff Sgt. Seth Reab, tells his students in the morning freeze. “She’s violent. She’s harsh. Your job is to survive until help comes; her job is to find a way to take your life.”

The Air Force’s Cool School, which brings in more than 700 participants every year across all service branches, takes place outside Eielson Air Force Base, deep inside Alaska. Temperatures average about 30 degrees below zero.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon young Jr./USAF

At the start of the course, all participants are given the emergency equipment they would have depending upon what plane they would be flying.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: YouTube

The emergency equipment usually works. But everything else in the Arctic will try to kill the participants. This includes subzero temperatures …

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: YouTube

… and even dehydration. Despite the abundance of snow, it is extremely difficult to drink enough water under harsh Arctic conditions.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: YouTube

One of the first things students are taught is to harvest snow in parachutes, in order to melt it down for water.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon young Jr./USAF

This supply of snow can then be moved into tin cans, in which the snow can be mixed until it melts enough to easily drink.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Warmth is just as important as water. Students are taught to find tender wood with which to build a fire.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

In Cool School, students are taught the ideal way to split wood into longer thin splints that will burn more easily and evenly.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: YouTube

Servicemembers learn to create sparks with a metal match. Though somewhat antiquated, metal matches can be used indefinitely.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: YouTube

Once students create a fire, it can be used for signaling, heat, and food preparation.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Students also learn more basic practical skills — they have to change socks in order to keep feet dry so as to avoid hypothermia.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

On the first night of school, students are taught to create open primitive shelters that provide little insulation from the elements.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Staff Sgt. Joseph Reimer unpacks his duffle bag during the first night of arctic field training near Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The course is five days in duration with instruction in familiarization with the arctic environment, medical, personal protection, sustenance and signaling. Reimer is an explosive ordnance disposal technician assigned to the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron

During the second day, instructors teach students to make more complex A-frame shelters out of wood and a parachute or tarp.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Airman 1st Class Ray Simon prepares the cover for his thermalized A-frame shelter during arctic survival training at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The A-frame shelter is designed to keep the survivor warm and dry to endure harsh arctic nights. Simon is a 3rd Maintenance Support Squadron crew chief.

The A-frame is then covered with almost a foot of snow to provide insulation.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Airman 1st Class Ray Simon looks out of his thermalized A-frame tent during Arctic Survival School training. The thermalized A-frame is designed to keep survivors warm and dry in arctic environments. Simon is a 3rd Maintenance Support Squadron crew chief and also a member of a crash disable damage recovery team responsible for retrieving downed aircraft in emergency situations.

Another vital principle of survival students learn is how to create an effective signal fire by placing a flare inside a base of kindling and smoke-generating tree limbs.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Photo: Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr./USAF

Staff Sgt. Seth Reab ignites a flare in the middle of tender wood to create a smoke signal during a field training lesson at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The signal flare can be seen for up to 10 miles away and much further when rescue help is coming through the air. Reab is an Air Force Arctic Survival School instructor assigned to Det. 1, 66th Training Squadron at Eielson AFB.

Next to the smoke signal, students create a giant letter ‘V’ to alert passing pilots that they are in need of rescue.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
photo: YouTube

You can watch a recap of the Arctic Survival School below.

More from Business Insider:

This article originally appeared at Business Insider Defense Copyright 2015. Follow BI Defense on Twitter.

Intel

This crew tried to drift their tank but rolled it instead

At the Tank Biathlon currently going on in Russia, top crews are driving great tanks through maneuvers, demonstrations, and competitive events. Apparently, one Kuwaiti crew decided to one-up everyone by drifting a T-72 around a turn.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WriPgJFslyY

The T-72 is a fine tank, but it isn’t a drifter. Instead, the tank rolls nearly all the way over. Someone is likely going to have an awkward talk with his commander when he gets back to Kuwait.

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North Korea snubs the US and returns to China’s warm embrace

The year 2020 was a good year for almost no one, especially anyone in North Korea. Despite overtures from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, reconciliation between North and South Korea never materialized. Rapprochement with the U.S. never fully took hold, either. 

Then the global COVID-19 pandemic hit. North Korea needed help, and for a country like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, there’s only one game in town: China. 

According to the Korean Central News Agency, the DPRK’s state-run and only media outlet, North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un marked the 60th Anniversary of its mutual defense treaty with a warm message.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
“China, we’re still cool… right…?” (Wikimedia Commons)

He told Chinese Leader Xi Jinping that his government is taking a “fixed stand” to “ceaselessly develop the friendly and cooperative relations” between his government and that of China, according to KCNA. 

The Chinese president responded like anyone who’s dealing with a stage-5 clinger, acknowledging that his country and North Korea have “always supported each other,” according to Chinese state-run media agency Xinhua. 

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII

“The world has recently seen accelerating changes unprecedented over the past century… I wish to lead bilateral relations to unceasingly rise to new levels to the benefit of the two countries and their peoples.”

Translation: “We have always supported North Korea for whatever reason and we like their money, so we’ll keep on until they collapse under their own weight.”

For North Korea, its relationship with China is essentially a lifeline in times of crisis. Despite claims of self-sufficiency, the DPRK relies heavily on Chinese aid and support. North Korea has been hit particularly hard in recent years by crippling U.S. sanctions. 

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII

Although the country has released no information on how hard it was hit by the coronavirus, experts believe the pandemic only exacerbated the desperation inside the world’s last Stalinist communist state. 

Relations between the two communist countries date back to the 1930s and the mutual war against Japanese occupation. After World War II, the North was bisected from the South by the Soviet Union. When the People’s Republic of China was finally established in 1949, the two officially established diplomatic relations. 

Western Allies occupied South Korea. During the Korean War, Chinese soldiers intervened on the side of North Korea in order to maintain the North’s presence as a buffer against western aggression on its Yalu River border. Keeping western troops from having a foothold on its doorstep is China’s primary national security concern with North Korea. 

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
“This Kim Jong Un is a real pain in my ass. You’ve got my back if we annex them, right?” (Wikimedia Commons)

Although the United States maintains a deterrent presence in South Korea, especially along the demilitarized border with North Korea, China does not deploy troops to North Korea. 

In 1961, the two countries signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, promising to again go to war together in case either one was attacked from the outside. North Korea was not always the worldwide pariah state it is today. Under the protection and aid of the Soviet Union, the North flourished. When the USSR collapsed in the early 1990s, North Korea’s decline began in full. 

The North has suffered from food shortages, widespread famine and crippling sanctions since 1994. With the rise of its nuclear weapons program, those sanctions have only increased and its reliance on China has become more important than ever. 

Feature image: Screen capture from YouTube

Intel

The Marine Corps is experimenting with a concept that could reshape the infantry

Infantry Marines get specialized training to operate specific weapons, but that could change as the service experiments with a model to create generalists who can use several different systems in combat.

Three infantry battalions are spending two years testing new models that could revolutionize the Marine Corps‘ ground combat element. The effort is part of a 10-year plan to reshape the service as it prepares for possible conflict with near-peer threats — mainly China.

The model that could perhaps lead to the most dramatic changes to the Marine infantry battalion is called the “arms room concept,” which Brig. Gen. Benjamin Watson, head of the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, describes as “an armory of many different systems.”

“Your Marines would be trained in all of them, and then you pick the weapons suited to the mission,” Watson said. “… It’s producing a more mature, sort of multidimensional utility infielder as an infantryman.”Advertisement

Commandant Gen. David Berger released his annual update on Force Design 2030, a directive for sweeping servicewide changes he says are necessary to prep the force for its next fight. Those plans call for a redesigned infantry battalion.

“I am not confident that we have adequately assessed all of the implications of the future operating environment on the proposed structure of our future infantry battalion,” Berger wrote in March 2020. Now, he has directed a battalion in each of the three Marine Corps divisions to begin experimentation.

The “arms room” concept was the model originally proposed to redesign the infantry battalion, Watson said. One of the battalions is experimenting with that model, while the others are testing out a modified version and an alternative.

The concept, officials said, could eventually eliminate infantry battalions’ weapons companies, shifting those weapons — 81mm mortars and the Javelin portable anti-tank missile, for example — into headquarters or rifle companies.

But infantry Marines need different training to employ those weapons.

Grunts traditionally attend basic infantry training before they’re given specialized instruction on a specific weapon system. Now, as part of the experimentation, the Schools of Infantry that train enlisted grunts on both coasts are running 14-week test courses — 50% longer than the current nine-week course.

During the longer course, Watson said, Marines are learning how to operate a host of weapons rather than specializing in one.

“What this would do is increase the duration of the entry-level infantry training pipeline [and] train the infantry Marine in a variety of crew-served weapon systems, such that they are capable of operating more than just one,” he said. “Then, the unit would make the decision — based on the mission they’re assigned, based on the threat, etc. — what weapons systems they’d want to assign to their Marines.”

Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, deputy commandant of Combat Development and Integration, said they recognize there are critics of the “arms room” concept. He said he points those who say it won’t work to the infantry automatic rifle with improved optic.

“You have basically trained Marines hitting targets all day long at 500, 700, 800 meters that used to be the range of school-trained snipers,” Smith said. “[They’re] hitting them all day long because the weapon system and its heavier barrel and the optic that goes with it means basically trained Marines can pick it up and pop individual targets out at ranges that used to be the sole domain of a sniper.”

Similarly, with the new Organic Precision Fires-Infantry loitering munitions, or OPR-I, Smith said Marines can strike targets “well beyond what a 60mm or 81mm mortar can do.”

“You may not need that mortarman to do that,” he said. “… So I would tell the [‘arms room’] naysayers, ‘Hey, give it a minute.'”

The change could ultimately lead to a single military occupational specialty for all infantry personnel. Military.com reported in December that the Marine Corps was considering merging its infantry specialties — which include riflemen, reconnaissance Marines, machine gunners, mortarmen, snipers, anti-tank missile gunners and light-armor vehicle Marines — into a single MOS.

Leaders stressed this week that no decision has been finalized about how the infantry battalion will be organized.

“We’ll come out of this [experimentation] with a recommendation to the commandant on what the future will look like,” Watson said.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the identification of the person quoted.

This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.

Articles

The US Navy conducted war games in the Black Sea, angering Russia

In the ongoing game of raising and lowering tensions on Russia’s doorstep, the United States Navy has once again raised eyebrows in the Black Sea. This time, it’s defending a number of drills it conducted in the area as “essential.”

The exercises, called Sea Breeze 2021, weren’t a surprise to anyone. It was a scheduled series of exercises, complete with photos and video available on the publicly available Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS). It even has its own Twitter account. The exercise has been held annually since 1997, according to the U.S. Navy. 

But this year is a very different year, as tensions between Russia, Ukraine and the United States and its western allies have been mounting in recent months. 

From June 28-July 10, 2021, the United States and Ukraine hosted the massive sea drill, attended by 32 countries from six continents providing 5,000 troops, 32 ships, 40 aircraft and 18 special operations and dive teams.

Earlier in 2021, as many as 30,000-60,000 Russian ground troops were massing on its border with Ukraine, leading many to believe that an invasion similar to the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula was imminent. The United States and the United Kingdom attempted to move naval forces into the area as a show of support, which only angered the Russian government, increasing the tension there. 

Eventually, cooler heads prevailed and much of the large Russian force was withdrawn but not before the United States was forced to keep its naval forces away from the Crimean Peninsula. Even so, British and Dutch forces came in contact with Russian forces in potentially explosive confrontations. 

When the long-planned Sea Breeze 2021 exercises kicked off, Russia condemned them as a military provocation. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the western forces there risked provoking the Russians.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov even said the western ships “would be better off leaving their provocations aside next time and staying away from that area because they will get clocked in the nose.”

The Black Sea is just another front in the ongoing conflict over Ukraine, and Russia’s dwindling sphere of influence in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region. While Black Sea waters are an important area for Russia’s foreign trade, the Russian bear also uses its influence there to choke Ukraine’s trading capabilities.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
Ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, 2007 (Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. Navy officials say the Sea Breeze exercises are an essential element in deterring Russian aggression toward its former Soviet client states, especially ones like Ukraine who believe their future lies with the West. Ukraine is still fighting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern portion of its border areas. 

Meanwhile, as Sea Breeze 2021 continued, Russia began its own series of naval and air exercises, which included air-to-air refueling, strategic missile carriers and air defense systems. These were all designed to counter what Russia believes is an attempt to establish new military installations closer to Ukraine, a threat to Russian sovereignty and something Vladimir Putin said he would not allow. 

In a statement in July 2021, Putin told a gathering of reporters that in case of war between Russia and the West, Russia would prevail.

“They know they cannot win this conflict,” Putin said. “We would be fighting for our own territory; we didn’t travel thousands of miles to get to their borders, they did.”

Intel

Russian soldier gets shot in the head by an AK round, sergeant pulls out the bullet

This Russian soldier has been dubbed “The Terminator” after catching an AK-47 round between the eyes. The video description is light on details, so we’re thinking if — IF — this is real, the bullet had to have been a ricochet. A direct shot to the head from a 7.62mm would go right through, Russian “Terminator” or not.


Still, here’s a crazy video of a guy using a pair of pliers pulls the bullet out of his noggin. And then the soldier is all smiles.

Watch:

NOW: The crazy story of the man who fought for Finland, the Nazis, and US Army Special Force

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Intel

The Army found cannons and other Revolutionary War artifacts in the Savannah River

The Army Corps of Engineers was dredging the Savannah River in Georgia when a historic discovery was made. The dredging pulled up an anchor, a piece of ship timber and three old cannons. At first, they were assumed to be from the Civil War. Army archaeologists examined the artifacts with the help of the British Royal Navy to try and identify them.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
The cannons appear to be from the 18th century and predate the Civil War (Army Corps of Engineers)

The bustling coastal city of Savannah was crucial to the British effort during the Revolutionary War. The British hoped to gain the support of colonial loyalists in the American south. To do this, they occupied Savannah in 1778. However, less than a year later, the city fell under siege. In need of support, the Royal Navy dispatched the HMS Rose to relieve the beleaguered Redcoats at Savannah.

HMS Rose had already developed a reputation among American sailors. With her 20 guns and crew of 160, HMS Rose began her colonial tour intercepting smugglers around Rhode Island. She then patrolled the New York waterways and along the east coast where she clashed with Continental Navy ships before she was redeployed south.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
The anchor that was recovered from the Savannah River (Army Corps of Engineers)

With the patriot siege of Savannah intensifying, the French military dispatched reinforcements to sail up the river and join the colonists. In an incredible strategic decision, British commanders determined that the best way to halt the French was to scuttle HMS Rose and block the river. On September 19, 1779, the ship was sunk in the Savannah River east of where River Street runs in the city today. The ship’s sacrifice paid off for the British who broke the siege and retained control of Savannah for the majority of the war.

The five-foot-long cannons that were dredged up were determined to be of 18th century origin and coincide with HMS Rose‘s fate. The anchor and ship timber require further investigation before any conclusions are drawn. “We are looking at whether they came from a single context, or if the anchor came from a later ship,” said Corps of Engineers district archaeologist Andrea Farmer. The Savannah District Corps of Engineers has experience temporarily preserving historical artifacts after the recovery of the CSS Georgia Civil War ironclad from the river in 2015.

It is also believed that HMS Rose may have been partially salvaged after she was scuttled. The question remains, how many more artifacts from the 18th century ship remain hidden on the riverbed? “I think it’s fantastic and interesting when artifacts from maritime history come to light,” said Cmdr. Jim Morley, the British assistant naval attaché in Washington. “It just gives us an opportunity to look back at our common maritime history and history in general.” Archaeologists and historians continue to study the recovered artifacts and search for more to uncover the stories that they hold.

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII
One of the recovered cannons (Army Corps of Engineers)
Articles

Why Russia has three nuclear footballs – and who can use them

The United States closest geopolitical rival is Russia, but when it comes to the way their militaries operate, that’s where the two countries’ similarities end. Nowhere is this more apparent than in their command and control structures for launching nuclear weapons.

It’s a well-known fact that the President of the United States has a military officer who follows his every move while carrying the nuclear “football.” This is essentially a suitcase filled with everything necessary for the president to authorize and launch a nuclear strike while he’s not in a designated command and control area, such as the White House. 

In the United States, one person, the President of the United States, has sole authority to launch a nuclear strike, either an offensive strike or in retaliation. In the Russian Federation, the president’s power is checked by the military when it comes to a nuclear launch. 

The Russian Federation’s military has three of these nuclear footballs, which follow around three very important Russian defense officials. This system is known as a “triple key” system. The first football follows the President of Russia, who is currently Vladimir Putin. The Russian president’s football doesn’t contain an actual nuclear key, but instead a system of launch codes. 

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“Who’s got the nukes? Oh, not you? BOOM. Annexed” (Russian Presidential Press and Information Office)

But Vladimir Putin can’t initiate a nuclear strike by himself, on his own authority. It’s probably the one thing he can’t do in Russia. Instead, in a time of need, the president’s codes must be sent to the Russian Defense Minister, currently Russian army Gen. Sergey Shoygu, who has held the position since 2012. 

Once the Minister of Defense receives an order and launch codes from the president, he sends his codes and the president’s codes to the Chief of the General Staff, currently Gen. Valery Gerasimov. Once the Chief of the General Staff has all three sets of codes, then he can make the launch orders to the missile crews.

It’s estimated that the entire process, once initiated, should take about 20 minutes. This process was considered a highly-guarded state secret in the days of the Soviet Union, and a lot of misinformation still exists surrounding it. The three-step process is generally known to be true. 

One unconfirmed rumor states that the defense minister and the Chief of the General Staff must transmit their codes separately to limit unauthorized access from renegade military personnel. Another rumor says that the Chief of the General Staff actually has the president’s codes as well. This structure, it’s believed, prevents a power grab from the defense minister’s office, nipping any conspiracy against the president in the bud. 

There is also no system of transferring launch authority in place in case one of these three men suddenly becomes unable to perform their duties. The first and only time a Russian leader has ever publicly legalized a line of succession in case he was unable to act came from Boris Yeltsin shortly after the end of the Soviet Union. 

After the 1993 coup against Yeltsin, the Russian constitution codified the presidential line of succession, putting the president’s power in the hands of the Russian Prime Minister. But it does not list the line of succession if the prime minister were to be disabled or killed. 

Russia’s system of positive control of its nuclear launch capabilities is one that it came by through a number of trials and errors. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet commander in Cuba had the authority to launch a nuclear strike without Moscow’s permission, for example. Nothing was guaranteed. 

This battle against ISIS was the biggest in the Philippines since WWII

These days, that power rests firmly in hands of three longtime officeholders, with a rudimentary system of checks and balances to keep one from overriding the others. Probably for the best.

Feature image: Screen capture from YouTube

Intel

Patton once set cash on fire after learning his men weren’t being given free coffee

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Photo: National Archives and Records Administration


Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. was known for his courage and skill on the battlefield in world War II, but he was nearly as well known for his colorful character. He carried ivory-handled pistols, designed his own sword, and once burned a crate of Red Cross cash after he was offered free coffee.

Patton was moving through Bastogne, Belgium in December 1944 with one of his drivers, Francis “Jeep” Sanza. Patton spotted a Red Cross canteen truck and told Sanza to pull over.

The men got out of the Jeep and went to order food. Sanza got two crullers and a coffee, for which he was charged 10 Francs. The Red Cross worker then told Patton that he could have his snack for free. The general became angry that the Red Cross would give him special treatment but still charge his men. He demanded the woman show him the money the Red Cross had collected.

Sanza described what happened next in an interview with the Napa Valley Register:

“So she takes out this orange crate filled with money, puts it down on the ground. He took out a lighter, lit one bill, let it burn and then ignited the whole box. Then he took a shovel from the Jeep and buried the ashes.”

Patton seems to have escaped punishment for his outburst, likely because his forces broke through German lines in Bastogne at the end of the same month. His success allowed 101st Airborne Division paratroopers under German siege to escape and pushed the German forces across of the Rhine River.

NOW: 11 quotes that show the awesomeness of Gen. George S. Patton

Intel

Russia scrambles fighter jet to shadow US B-1B bombers over the Baltic Sea

KYIV, Ukraine — A Russian Su-27 “Flanker” fighter scrambled to intercept a pair of US Air Force B-1B Lancer supersonic bombers on a training mission over the Baltic Sea on Wednesday, underscoring Moscow’s discontent with a more assertive American airpower presence in the Arctic and on NATO’s eastern flank.

According to Moscow, the US bombers approached but never violated Russian sovereign airspace. The scrambled Su-27 “shadowed” the two B-1Bs over the Baltic Sea, Russia’s National Defense Control Center announced Wednesday.

“The flight of the Russian fighter jet took place in strict accordance with international airspace rules,” the Russian military said in its statement.

The US Air Force acknowledged the incident in a statement to Coffee or Die Magazine.

“Yesterday, U.S. B-1B aircraft were conducting operations in international airspace exercising our freedom of navigation and overflight when the aircraft had routine interaction with the Russian aircraft operating in the region,” a representative for US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa wrote in an email, adding that the US bombers obeyed all international air traffic rules.

Highlighting how the Arctic region has risen to the top rung of the US military’s geographic priorities, B-1B bombers from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas are currently deployed to Norway’s Ørland Air Station for a month of training exercises; this is the first time US bombers have operated out of Norway.

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A B-1B Lancer assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron takes off from Ørland Air Force Station, Norway, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Colin Hollowell.

Two of the deployed American bombers took off from Norway on Wednesday as part of Bone Saw, a NATO training mission over the North Sea and Baltic Sea. (The B-1B is commonly known among US pilots as the “Bone.”) Danish and Polish F-16s, as well as Eurofighter Typhoons from Germany and Italy, also participated in the flight, the US Air Force said in a release.

“This mission sends a clear message that our commitment to our NATO allies is unshakeable,” Gen. Jeff Harrigian, US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, said in a statement. “We’re in this together to get after the mission and pursue our shared goal of regional security.”

Russia has also stepped up its military presence in the Arctic with reopened Soviet-era bases, new radars, an expanded Northern Fleet, and the redeployment of airpower assets farther north. This week, for example, Russian Tu-22M3 “Backfire” supersonic, long-range bombers conducted training missions in the country’s northwestern Murmansk Oblast. Located on the Kola Peninsula extending into the Barents Sea, the oblast’s capital city of Murmansk is located only about 60 miles from the border with Norway.

The Tu-22M3 is a supersonic, variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic and strike bomber developed in the 1960s. A staple of the Soviet Union’s air force, the Tu-22M3 has a maximum speed of about Mach 1.88 and a combat range of roughly 1,500 miles. Based on its performance and general mission set, the Tu-22M3 is roughly analogous, although technologically inferior, to the US B-1B.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?creatorScreenName=coffeeordiemag&dnt=true&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1367019410892988416&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fcoffeeordie.com%2Frussia-fighter-shadowed-us-bombers%2F&siteScreenName=coffeeordiemag&theme=light&widgetsVersion=e1ffbdb%3A1614796141937&width=500px

The B-1B Lancer is a Cold War-era, supersonic heavy bomber. As America’s vanguard long-range bomber, the B-1B carries the largest conventional payload of guided and unguided weapons in the Air Force inventory. On Friday, B-1B bombers conducted a joint mission with Norwegian F-35s and naval units, marking the first mission of the historic American bomber deployment to Norway.

“This type of interoperability is especially critical in the Arctic where no one nation has the infrastructure or capacity to operate alone,” Harrigian said.

Norway shares a 122-mile border with Russia. The headquarters of Russia’s Northern Fleet in the port city of Severomorsk is situated along the Murmansk Fjord less than 70 miles from Norway’s border.

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A US Marine with Kilo Company, Marine Rotational Force Europe 21.1, Marine Forces Europe and Africa, provides suppressive fire during a live-fire range in Setermoen, Norway, Feb. 23, 2021. US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Patrick King, courtesy of DVIDS.

James Stavridis, a retired US Navy admiral who formerly served as NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, warned that the Arctic is a “zone of competition” that could devolve into a “zone of conflict.”

To bolster its military reach in the Arctic, the Pentagon has cultivated closer ties to Norway, including plans to use the country’s northern port city of Tromsø to service US nuclear submarines. According to an Air Force statement: “Department of Defense cooperation with allies and partners in the Arctic strengthens our shared approach to regional security and helps deter strategic competitors from seeking to unilaterally change the existing rules-based order.”

Some 1,000 US Marines deployed to Norway in January for extreme cold-weather training. However, due to coronavirus concerns the Norwegian government canceled what was to be an international Arctic warfare training exercise.

For its part, the Kremlin has pushed back against America’s defense relationship with Norway. According to Moscow, the US has unnecessarily increased tensions by pre-positioning military hardware closer to Russia’s borders.

“One can hardly talk about ‘tranquility’ when tensions are increasing near Russian borders, and when an extremely powerful bridgehead for conducting hostilities against Russia is being established,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a Feb. 11 press briefing.

Zakharova added: “We believe that such activities on the part of Oslo threaten regional security and put an end to Norway’s traditional policy not to deploy permanent foreign military bases on its territory in peacetime.”

Today, Russia has at least 34 military installations in or near the Arctic.

This article originally appeared on Coffee or Die. Follow @CoffeeOrDieMag on Twitter.

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